Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Distinguished Student Award

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Vanessa Bowman Bershad, ’05 (left), the 2005 recipient of the Distinguished Student Award,
presented this year’s award to Yudeysis Cores.
Yudeysis Cores

The UCF Alumni Association honored Yudeysis Cores with the 2015 Distinguished Student Award at its annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

Yudeysis has distinguished herself as an outstanding student and member of the UCF community through diligence, compassion and dedication. Her outstanding credentials reflect superior achievement in academics, co-curricular activities, community involvement and upholding the tenants of the UCF Creed.

Currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in mathematics education in the College of Education and Human Performance, Yudeysis is a Gates Millennium Scholar, and has served on the Education Student College Council and as a judge for the Choices Learning Science Fair. She also was recently selected to serve on the UCF President’s Leadership Council, for which she is excited to serve as a student ambassador and continue to grow as a young professional.

In spring 2013, she conducted an independent research project on how society has created a negative image of the teaching profession, and subsequently presented her work at the Knights Wrights Showcase, before being published in the 2014 Stylus Journal.

After graduation, she would like to teach abroad for a semester to develop her craft as a future teacher and learn about different educational systems across the world. Her dream is to attend Columbia or Vanderbilt University to complete a degree in education policy, and work for a state department of education. She also would like to teach mathematics in a Title I middle school, where she hopes to create positive change with her passion and dedication for teaching.

Yudeysis is motivated and enjoys being able to provide the best experience possible for students in her college who are preparing for what she calls “the most beautiful profession.”

One day, she hopes to create a nonprofit organization to help build schools in underprivileged countries. Her plans are ambitious, but, as she always says, “Just one step at at time, Yudy.”

Learn more about Yudeysis:

UCF Board of Trustees Revises Downtown Campus Plans

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Rendering of proposed UCF Downtown campus
(PHOTO: UCF Board of Trustees online agenda)

By Eric Gutierrez
Digital Producer, Central Florida Future

Moving forward with plans to establish a stronger downtown presence, UCF’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved of a revised plan for the Downtown Orlando campus. “This update is very different than the plans we saw in January,” Chairman Marcos Marchena said.

The revised plan proposes building an academic services building and renovating the existing Center for Emerging Media. The academic services building will cost about $60 million to build, and renovations for the Center for Emerging Media building will cost about $5 million.

To fund the project, the plan proposes asking the state for about $19 million — about one-third the amount UCF originally asked from the state to build the downtown campus’ first academic building. The remaining funds will be paid for by the university and through private donations.

“We are working with our partners to address parking and housing downtown,” said Provost Dale Whittaker.

The proposed academic building would house academic programs that are well suited for the downtown environment and are expected to bring out more than 7,000 students to the downtown campus the first year. “We’ve refined our plans to include nine academic degree programs with strategic emphasis to meet workforce gaps in Florida,” Whittaker said. “We see the new academic building to be a key catalyst to the development of this campus.” So far, the programs offered are centered around health care, communications, technology, social work and legal studies.

The downtown campus would offer students work and internship opportunities that would apply what they learn in the classroom into the real world, he said.

Though plans for the downtown campus are set to continue, the projected opening date has been pushed back an extra year. “We moved from [opening in] fall of 2017 to fall of 2018,” said Grant Heston, vice president of communications and marketing.

The downtown project has always aimed to improve students by bringing them downtown and improving downtown by having students in the area, Heston said. The overall impact of the project will affect the downtown area in a very positive way, he said.

This story appeared in a Sept. 24, edition of the Central Florida Future online. See original article.

UCF Student-Athletes Crush the Competition

UCF Football, Men’s Basketball, Softball earn AAC Team Academic Excellence Awards

AAC-Team-Excellence-Awards-2015

By Andy Seeley
UCFKnights.com

UCF student-athletes are continuing to excel in the classroom, as well as in competition. Three Knights programs were honored Tuesday, July 28, as the American Athletic Conference announced its Team Academic Excellence Awards for 2014-15.

The American Athletic Conference Team Academic Excellence Awards recognize the team in each conference sport with the highest GPA for that academic year. UCF’s football, men’s basketball and softball programs each earned that distinction this year.

“I’m very proud of our student-athletes for their hard work and success in the classroom,” interim Director of Athletics George O’Leary said. “We have a culture of academic success at UCF.”

For Coach O’Leary’s football program, it marks the fourth straight season the Knights have been honored as the best academic team in their conference. The Knights have brought home the Team Academic Excellence Award twice in the two-year existence of the American Athletic Conference. In addition to the last two AAC honors, the football program also brought home the Conference USA Sport Academic Award in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

The Knights are the two-time defending American Athletic Conference champions on the gridiron to go along with the Academic Team Excellence Awards.

Head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie led her softball squad to a school-record 50 wins last season. The Knights were the American Athletic Conference Champions in both the regular season and postseason tournament and advanced to the NCAA Regional Final. The Black and Gold accomplished those feats while also fielding the strongest academic squad in the conference.

Meanwhile, men’s basketball head coach Donnie Jones leads a squad that posted a school-record Academic Progress Rate score in the most recent NCAA release, to go along with his team’s AAC Team Academic Excellence Award.

Academic accolades have become the norm at UCF.

As a department, the Knights rank No. 1 in the nation in NCAA Graduation Success Rate among all public institutions. At 95 percent in the most recent GSR report, UCF trails only private institutions Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke and Northwestern. The Knights’ GSR is 11 points above the national average. UCF’s football, volleyball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s soccer and rowing programs are all tops among The American in Graduation Success Rate.

In the most recent NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) report, the Knights improved for the 10th consecutive year. Two Knights programs — volleyball and women’s tennis — have had multiple perfect scores in APR, while the department average of 981 is a school record. Twelve of the Knights’ 16 sports are at or above the national average for APR.

This story was posted July 28, 2015, on UCFKnights.com. It has been slightly edited in accordance with alumni association style guidelines. See original article.

Local Company Supports UCF’s Athletes with Annual Breakfast Fundraiser

Pat Clark (left), WESH 2 sports anchor, and Belvin Perry, personal-injury attorney and former chief judge in Florida's Ninth Judicial Circuit, joined Knightro and two of UCF's cheerleaders for the annual MPC UCF Touchdown Breakfast on April 29.
Pat Clarke (left), WESH 2 sports anchor, and Belvin Perry, personal-injury attorney and former chief judge in Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit, joined Knightro and UCF Cheerleaders for the annual MPC UCF Touchdown Breakfast on April 29. (Photo: RF Photography)

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Wealth management firm Moreno, Peelen, Pinto & Clark hosted its second MPC UCF Touchdown Breakfast on Wednesday, April 29, to help raise money toward an academic support center for UCF athletes.

Four of the five partners in the firm are UCF alumni, including Christina Pinto, ’86; Lisa-Moreno Haramboure, ’89; Tony Moreno Jr., ’91, who also serves on the UCF Foundation Board of Directors; and Rob Clark, ’94. The firm’s other partner, Scott Peelen, graduated from Michigan State, but he was easily adopted as a member of their UCF family, especially since his daughter, Sarah, is a current UCF student, and he attends all of the football games.

The breakfast took place at the Alfond Inn in Winter Park, with many prominent community figures in attendance — including members of the UCF Board of Trustees, UCF Foundation Board of Directors and UCF Alumni Association Board of Directors, as well as Orange County commissioners, current and former mayors, and one of the forefathers of UCF, Charlie Gray.

Knightro and some of the UCF Cheerleaders kicked off the morning with a cheer, followed by opening remarks from Peelen. WESH 2 Sports Anchor Pat Clarke hosted the remainder of the event, reminiscing about when UCF’s football program first started, and how he used to be able to park his Mustang under the Citrus Bowl stands. He commended then-Coach Gene McDowell on taking the program from Division II to Division I-AA, as well as current Head Coach George O’Leary on his “culture of winning” and “culture of learning.” He concluded with a video showcasing this season’s UCF Football’s key players before introducing Todd Stansbury, UCF’s athletic director, who stepped in to speak for O’Leary, who had to cancel his appearance due to a minor medical issue.

“When George meets with recruits,” Stansbury said, “he only guarantees them one thing — that they’ll graduate. He demands excellence, and that’s what he gets.”

In fact, UCF is No. 3 in the nation for graduating 90 percent of its football players, and is No. 1 in the nation for graduating 95 percent of all its student-athletes combined.

“A lot of people think we’re in the entertainment business,” Stansbury continued. “We’re really in the education business. Our mission is to provide opportunity to young people and develop future leaders. Our job is to use sport to prepare them to compete.”

While there were plenty of laughs, including an anecdote from Clarke about Peelen’s former reporting skills, the morning was really about supporting UCF’s athletes and their academic endeavors. Moreno, Peelen, Pinto & Clark pledged to match gifts up to the first $10,000 raised.

“One of the things we’ve noticed is the quality of the students graduating from UCF,” Moreno Jr. says. “In fact, we just hired another UCF alumnus through the internship program. We’re very proud of the high ranking UCF maintains for graduating athletes.”

Want to help make the academic support center a reality? Contact Chris Huff, associate athletics director of development and executive director of the Golden Knights Club, at [email protected] or 407.823.2205.

See highlights from the MPC UCF Touchdown Breakfast:

4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassadors Receive Order of Pegasus

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While attending a 4EVER KNIGHTS meeting in March, two of this year’s Order of Pegasus awardees, seniors Gerald Richardson and Jill Dutmers, posed for a photo in front of the Knights for Life wall at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.

Jill Dutmers and Gerald Richardson, two of the UCF Alumni Association’s 4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassadors, were awarded the 2015 Order of Pegasus — the university’s most prestigious and significant award a student can attain.

The Order of Pegasus recognizes exemplary performance by UCF bachelor’s degree students in the areas of academic achievement, outstanding university involvement, leadership and community service. Master’s degree students, doctoral, professional or M.D. students are selected separately based on academic achievement, professional or community service, leadership, and publication or research experiences.

  • Jill Dutmers is an undergraduate majoring in English literature in the College of Arts and Humanities, and is a student in The Burnett Honors College. She’s a member of the Honors Congress and President’s Leadership Council, and has participated in numerous service projects for the UCF community. Dutmers also serves as president of 4EK. She’s currently deciding which law school she’d like to attend. (She’s been accepted into seven.)

“My four years at UCF has afforded me incredible opportunities and experiences that have shaped not only how I view the world, but also how I view myself,” Dutmers says. “The education I received and leadership skills I gained have me a stronger, more polished, more confident Knight.”

  • Gerald Richardson is an undergraduate majoring in biomedical sciences in the College of Medicine. He’s a third-generation Knight. He’s involved with the Student Undergraduate Research Council and the President’s Leadership Council. Richardson also gives free, private tutoring, was a member of the 2014 UCF Homecoming Court, and participates in countless community service activities.

“At UCF, I have been afforded the unique opportunity to serve as a university ambassador, contribute to the well-being of the Central Florida community, and explore my passion for research, all while acquiring the scientific foundation necessary to pursue a career in medicine,” Richardson says. “I owe all of my success and professional maturity to the unwavering support that UCF and The Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences have displayed for my academic and extracurricular endeavors.”

The 4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassadors are a group of student leaders, chosen to serve as the liaisons between students and alumni. They operate as an extension of the UCF Alumni Association and oversee the programming and benefits for 4EK general membership. These student ambassadors uphold UCF traditions and leave a lasting legacy.

Two former 4EK Ambassadors have also been awarded Order of Pegasus: Todd Currie, who won it this year, and Jamie Gregor, ’13, who won it during her junior year, in 2012.

Congratulations to these exceptional Knights!

More Info

4EVER KNIGHTS Student Alumni Association
4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassadors

Just the Facts

Each year, UCF Marketing publishes a facts guide, highlighting the university’s successes in numbers. Here are the facts for 2014-15:

UCF at First Glance

GROWTH WITH QUALITY AND DIVERSITY

  • Fall 2014 freshman class set UCF records with an average SAT score of 1256 and an average high school GPA of 3.9.
  • UCF set records for diversity in the fall: 41 percent of students are minorities and 22 percent are Hispanic.
  • UCF is the nation’s second-largest university with 60,810 students, including 52,532 undergraduates, 7,858 graduate students and 420 M.D. students.
  • UCF ranks second among Florida’s state universities with 275 National Merit Scholars enrolled.
  • UCF’s six-year graduation rate is 69.7 percent, third best among Florida’s state universities.

PREPARING STUDENTS FOR THE WORKFORCE

  • More than 20,000 students gain practical experience through co-ops, internships and service-learning projects annually.
  • UCF awarded nearly 2,000 baccalaureate degrees in STEM fields in 2013-14, the second-largest number in the State University System.
  • Career Services helped 30,000 students search and compete for jobs in 2013-14.

AN AFFORDABLE, BEST-VALUE EDUCATION

  • 48 percent of UCF students graduate without any educational debt. Nationally, only 33 percent of students graduate debt-free.
  • Kiplinger and The Princeton Review consistently rank a UCF education among the nation’s best value.

A LEADER IN ECONOMIC IMPACT

  • UCF employs about 11,000 faculty and staff members. The university impacts more than 112,000 additional jobs and adds $7.73 billion of value to the economy, according to a 2009-10 study by the Florida Board of Governors.

Enrollment

TOTAL: 60,810
Undergraduate: 52,532
Freshman: 6,513
Transfer: 7,476
Graduate: 7,858
Medical Professional: 420

Hispanic (21.6%), African-American (10.5%), Asian and Pacific Islander (5.7%) and Multiracial (3%)

$44.9 million awarded to Bright Futures students (second-largest amount in Florida)

77 percent of undergraduate students received financial aid

$437 million in financial aid awarded

275 National Merit Scholars enrolled, a UCF record

Fall Freshman Profile

Average SAT Score: 1256* (1849**)
Average ACT Score: 27.4
Average High School GPA: 3.9

Fall Freshman Profile, The Burnett Honors College

TOTAL: 506
Average SAT Score: 1398* (2057**)
Average ACT Score: 31.5
Average High School Weighted GPA: 4.3

*Critical Reading and Mathematics
**Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing

Degree Programs

TOTAL: 210
Bachelor’s: 92
Master’s: 83
Doctoral: 31
Specialist: 3
Professional: 1


Degrees Conferred (as of Summer 2014)

TOTAL: 265,582
Bachelor’s: 217,552
Master’s: 43,830
Doctoral: 3,613
Specialist: 587

Top 15 Majors by Enrollment

  1. Psychology
  2. Health Sciences: Pre-Clinical
  3. Biomedical Sciences
  4. Nursing
  5. Mechanical Engineering
  6. Hospitality Management
  7. Accounting
  8. Biology
  9. Interdisciplinary Studies
  10. General Business
  11. Finance
  12. Elementary Education
  13. Marketing
  14. Computer Science
  15. Criminal Justice

Cost of Attendance (estimated per semester†)

IN-STATE
Tuition and fees: $2,972
Books and supplies: $573
Room and board: $4,879
TOTAL: $8,424

OUT-OF-STATE
Nonresident tuition and fees: $10,484

†Based on 14 undergraduate credit hours

Facilities

The main campus is 1,415 acres, approximately one-third of which is managed for conservation.

  • 180 buildings
  • Housing: 11,593 beds (includes affiliated)
  • Bright House Networks Stadium: 45,000-seat capacity
  • CFE Arena: 10,000-seat capacity

Research Funding

2013-14: $145.6 million
UCF researchers have earned more than $1 billion in external grants and contracts during the past decade.

Endowment Assets

June 30, 2014: $155.5 million

Operating Budget

2013-14: $1.5 billion

Employees

TOTAL: 11,074
Faculty members: 1,961
Staff members: 9,113

Regional Locations

  • Center for Emerging Media
  • Executive Development Center
  • Florida Solar Energy Center
  • Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona
  • Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Regional Campus Locations

  • Altamonte Springs
  • Cocoa
  • Daytona Beach
  • Leesburg
  • Ocala
  • Palm Bay
  • Sanford/Lake Mary
  • South Lake
  • Valencia Osceola
  • Valencia West

Alumni

More than 235,000

Unless otherwise noted, figures are for Fall 2014.


UCF Goals

  1. Offer the best undergraduate education available in Florida.
  2. Achieve international prominence in key programs of graduate study and research.
  3. Provide international focus to our curricula and research programs.
  4. Become more inclusive and diverse.
  5. Be America’s leading partnership university.

The goals are directions of travel. We’ve changed, and the way we pursue the goals has changed. —John C. Hitt

Scholarships Make Champions Shine Brighter

Thanks to his hard work — and first generation scholarship — No. 19 wide receiver, Josh Reese, '14, graduated with his bachelor's degree in summer 2014. Over the span of his UCF athletic career, he's helped the Knights win multiple conference championships and bowl games.
Thanks to his hard work — and First Generation Scholarship — No. 19 Wide Receiver Josh Reese, ’14, graduated with his bachelor’s degree in summer 2014. Over the span of his UCF athletic career, Reese has helped the Knights win multiple conference championships and bowl games.

By Angie Lewis, ’03

As UCF Football prepares for its final game of the season, facing the N.C. State Wolfpack in the 2014 Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 26, it also prepares to say goodbye to 21 seniors, who helped the team win back-to-back AAC championships and earn three consecutive bowl invitations.

While fans may know each player’s number and position, and be familiar with his performance on the field, what they may not know is how each got there.

One of those seniors is the Knights’ No. 19 wide receiver, Josh Reese, ’14, from Miami Central High School, whose energizing 30-yard reception, followed by Quarterback Justin Holman’s keeper, helped to briefly put UCF ahead of Penn State in the last two minutes of Ireland’s Croke Park Classic on Aug. 30.

“He’s really the one guy who sticks out as being the leader of the receiving group,” says UCF Wide Receivers Coach Sean Beckton, ’93. “He’s the one guy you can count on to go out and do everything right.”

In addition to his physical abilities, part of Reese’s success is also thanks to his First Generation Scholarship. He’s one of about 75 UCF student-athletes who receive financial assistance to help them succeed as the first person in their families to attend college.

“Having a First Generation Scholarship helped me get to college in general,” Reese says. “It also made it possible for me to go to a bigger and better college like UCF, and not only play football, but achieve a degree.”

Reese completed his bachelor’s degree in sport and exercise science this past summer.

“Everything that he’s gotten thus far, as far as the recognition here, he’s deserving of it, because he’s worked extremely hard,” Beckton says.

And, Reese isn’t the only UCF student-athlete who works hard on the field and off. The graduation rate of UCF’s student-athletes is 95 percent — the highest rate in the country among public institutions and fifth overall.

The graduate rate for UCF Football, specifically, is 90 percent, which is 10th overall among football programs and second among public institutions. The program has also won the Academic Excellence Award for having the highest GPA in the conference for the past three years.

“It’s always good to give back to people who may not have opportunities to go to college and beyond,” Reese says. “Never count out anyone.”

More Info

  • Get the numbers! JOSH REESE’S STATS
  • The Knights rank among the nation’s top bowl teams in the classroom. READ MORE
  • UCF recently celebrated the groundbreaking of The Wayne Densch Center for Student-Athlete Leadership. READ MORE
  • Want to make a difference in the life of a first generation college student? DONATE TODAY